Little Green Plants (aka Miracles)

Posted in Farming on Saturday, June 06, 2015

Little Green Plants (aka Miracles)

Spring field work is over, except for spraying the weeds in the spring crops.  It can be a maddening chore, knowing it should be done NOW for the best, most effective, timing, but waiting instead - sometimes days or weeks - for the wind to quit blowing.

That is actually a good thing.  As I mentioned in my last posting, I have a LOT of equipment repair to do after this spring’s fieldwork.  Checking the hourly weather conditions, makes me lift my head from equipment service and repair, and look out on the growing fields (somehow I never believe my weather station) to judge the wind.  “Is the wind going to back off? Should I go try to spray?”  

I look out at the open sky and the nearest fields, and there it is: the dry, hard, little seeds that I put in bare soil in April are now a solid carpet of fresh, green growing plants, on their way to making my livelihood.  They are doing it all on their own.  Each plant, driven by nature, is striving to make as much seed as possible without my involvement at all.  Oh, I have done everything I could to give those plants their best opportunity to thrive, but they do the complicated process that is life, all on their own. Nature drives them to use all of their lives to produce as much as possible.  Not only do they put every moment of their lives into producing, but they produce something brand new; they make bushels and wealth that have never been before. 

When those green plants are dead, I will harvest their produce for its economic value as food.  I will add substantial value by gathering and cleaning it with my combine and a little more value by transporting it to a processing or trading center.  Someone else will add even more value in further transportation and processing and packaging into consumer goods.  Others will add more value with more transportation and preparation into meals on tables around the world, but the ultimate source of that value, is those green, newly growing plants out there, growing whether anyone cares or not.  None of the work, none of hauling around - the transportation,  none of the value added by anyone along the way, has any meaning or any real value without the automatic natural response of seeds to fertile soil, moisture, and sunlight.

If the natural drive to reproduce is not miracle enough, stop and consider the chemical processes that a plant must do to make many seeds out of one seed. It is truly astounding.  Molecules of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur and other elements – raw, basic, elements, no assembling a few off-the-shelf components -  must be combined, forced together by enzymatic processes into making complex molecules that are the amino acids (proteins), starches, sugars, and fats we need to live on.

They have to pull water out of the soil.  That, in itself is a complicated and esoteric process.  It’s easy to say, “the plants take up water,” but the actual physiological mechanism is remarkable.  Have you ever considered, just how does a root know to grow to where the water is?

Capturing the energy of the sun far more efficiently than any solar panel, they store that energy in chemical bonds, creating complex, hard-for-humans-to-duplicate, molecules.  When it comes to chemistry, the lowliest plant is a genius compared to mere animals like us. 

And they are out there in the dirt, doing it all without me.